James Randi bets $1 million against homeopathy, buys me a sandwich
“I like to think they keep a Filipino virgin locked up in the back who makes the rice pudding.”
- James Randi
I met up with legendary magician, skeptic, prolific debunker of nonsense, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation last Friday in Ft. Lauderdale, FL to shoot the below video challenge to manufacturers and retailers of homeopathic “remedies”:
The footage was then downloaded by JREF’s Sadie Crabtree in Los Angeles, edited and posted to the Web on Saturday at 10:23 a.m. in support of the global homeopathic “medicine” overdose The 10:23 Challenge. And now it’s been seen by people worldwide via the LA Times, NPR, Forbes and Wired.uk, with over 91,000 views on the YouTubes.
The challenge is that anyone who can prove the efficacy of homeopathic treatment will collect the cash. Randi’s money is safe. Homeopathic “remedies,” as described in the video, are diluted with water until no molecules of the “medicine” remain. It’s just water. Like JREF’s other Million Dollar Challenge, for proof of paranormal phenomena, no one will ever collect. “It will never happen,” Randi assured me.
How I came to shoot the video is a marvel of modern communications technology. @BfloBeast follows @JREF on the Twitters; @JREF tweeted that they needed a hand with a secret project in Ft. Lauderdale; knowing I was in the area, The BEAST’s intrepid Josh Bunting sent me an e-mail which I read on a smart phone at the beach.
“It’s amazing how this worked out,” I said to Randi.
“No,” he corrected. “I’m amazing.”
And he is. I was having problems because the teleprompter hood wouldn’t reach the camera, so he bounded to his office and returned with some paper clips and rubber bands, and MacGyvered the thing in a minute flat.
Chemotherapy may have taken his top teeth, but cancer couldn’t stop the man and, despite some frustration over his toothless articulation, he nailed the video like a pro — just in time to take me to lunch and then walk over to the local news channel to debunk a grainy Youtube “demon.”
He drove us in his tiny, turquoise two-seater to the classic Lester’s Diner, home of the “14 ounce cup”. I told him about The BEAST’s little Lily Dale prank, and how one of the mediums claimed that Randi was Bunting’s deceased grandfather because we showed her this poorly Photoshopped image:
“I don’t recall ever having children,” Randi said with a smile. “Or being married.”
He ordered the meatloaf, and I chose the corned beef sandwich. While we waited for our food, Randi performed a magic trick involving a coin, some napkins and a disappearing salt shaker (I’d tell you how the illusion works, but then I’d be in violation of Magic Law). He periodically watched the TV in the corner and commented on the state of affairs in Egypt, and imparted random facts about synthetic, “left-handed” sugar and the origins of corned beef.
“So you’re…friends with John Stossel?” I asked. He is. I wanted to tear into Stossel, for his egregious “free-market” worship and his flippant dismissal of climate change, but I couldn’t make my mouth form the words. Randi’s too damn cute to argue with in person. He looks like a little spider monkey with Darwin’s head. Even though it had everything to do with what we were talking about, I let it go. (For the record, Stossel is still a colossal asshole.)
What we were talking about was confirmation bias in the Internet age. We’re concurrently awash in information and a paranoid distrust of basic science. Reading some of the comments and posts about JREF’s challenge, or any climate change article, will show you exactly what I mean. From an idiot commenter on Discovery News:
Clearly the author of this article was motivated by some larger organization. Drug-pushing pharmaceutical groups, anyone? And the James Randi Educational Foundation isn’t exactly a trusted source for health-related matters. Sorry, but this article is useless.
Or this monumental failure of thinking at some Web site called Natural News:
But getting back to water and vibrations, which isn’t magic but rather vibrational physics, you can’t overdose on a harmony. If you have one violin playing a note in your room, and you add ten more violins — or a hundred more — it’s all still the same harmony (with all its complex higher frequencies, too). There’s no toxicity to it.
As of this writing, all inquiries sent to CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens remain unanswered. They hate us. They hate you. Do not shop there.
So in conclusion, Lester’s rice pudding is delicious. And it may or may not be made by an enslaved Filipino virgin. It’s a mystery.
Possible ad for useless homeopathic products. Click; do not buy ; )